Banks:

Paul Howorth writes: Re. “Who says banks too big to fail? We need a warts-and-all inquiry” (Friday, item 21). Hear hear Glenn Dyer for correctly reminding us (and Joe Hockey) that scale and a lack of competition in the banking sector in Australia is the main fault line in our banking system. I’d like us to turn the language around: “too big to bail” should be our regulatory motto.

A simple regulation could nominate a generous capitalised size beyond which a bank becomes publicly known as “too big to bail”. I think this would have the dual effect of making huge banks reluctant to creep too far past the limit, and diverting all but the most risk happy capital away from the “too big to bail” banks.

The inspiration for this thought comes from anti-trust rules in the US, and I understand that the US Treasury is looking into a “too big to bail” regulation.

Less centralisation should lead to lower risk and more competition, and therefore, in Australia’s case, lower interest rate offers.

Robert Edgerton writes: Re. “Hockey on banks saying what Labor should be” (Friday, item 2). I can’t figure Bernard Keane’s approach to this. There is a vast difference between the requirement for a global regulation of the banking sector to prevent collapse due to investment in junk bonds etc and direct regulation of the interest rates they may impose on loans.

If Bernard (and Joe Hockey) want that then nationalize the CBA again. The real risk to society is a banking collapse a-la Lehman Bros which doesn’t occur because their mortgage rates are too high.

The last thing Australia needs is a government telling a private sector bank it must operate with a financial model the board doesn’t believe is viable. For this stance to be emanating from the Liberal side of politics beggars belief and almost guarantees Joe’s front bench days are numbered.

North Korea:

Colin Jacobs writes: Re. “North Korean asylum seeker told to try South Korea” (Friday, item 12). I recently had a detailed conversation with an Immigration insider and the subject of North Korean refugees came up. Apparently, they are not quite as rare as you might think. However, the officer told me that in their experience North Korean refugees always turn out to be “economic migrants” from South Korea.

For instance, few were able to produce their Kim Il Sung badges (which all adult North Koreans wear). I have no way to verify the facts, but it would seem from this discussion that claims from North Koreans are greeted with considerable skepticism. In recent times the number of North Koreans seeking refuge in South Korea has taken a huge spike, and they are no longer as welcome as they once were.

If M is sent to Seoul, she will get some training from the government — how to use a doorbell, mobile phones 101 — but would have to fend for herself.

Assimilation is proving very difficult, as North Koreans seldom have skills in demand in the South. Some Northerners have even decided to go back and face the consequence as a result of failing to adjust.

NBN:

Chris Virtue  writes: Re. “Conroy comes knocking: wiring up the myths in the NBN war” (Friday, item 7). What do renters do? Who makes the call whether to opt in or out? I rent. I don’t have a fixed line anything because I never know if the place I’m living in is going to be sold. I use an internet service that runs on the 3G network. It gives me a broadband connection and landline number (but no landline). I used to use fixed line ADSL but it was such hassle whenever I moved.

After moving one  time I was without broadband for six weeks. Try running a documentation business on dial up! The mobile thing is terrific. I’ve used it in four addresses now with zero downtime. I even moved from Sydney to Melbourne with it for a while. The only thing that changed was that the landline number went from 02 to 03.

BTW, my wiring costs me nothing. I have a wireless router. Anyone who lays cable is a mug.

Peter Fray

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